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Guatemala - Foreign Relations

Guatemala's major diplomatic interests are regional security, regional development, and economic integration. Guatemala participates in several regional groups, particularly those related to trade and the environment.

The Council of Central American Ministers of Trade meets on a regular basis to work on regional approaches to trade issues. The council signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the U.S. in 1998, and was part of the negotiations that led to the creation of CAFTA-DR. Guatemala joined Honduras and El Salvador in signing a free trade agreement with Mexico in 2000, which went into effect the following year. Guatemala also originated the idea for, and is the seat of, the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN).

The U.S. and Central American countries signed the CONCAUSA (Conjunto Centroamerica-USA) agreement at the Summit of the Americas in December 1994. CONCAUSA is a cooperative plan of action to promote clean, efficient energy use; conserve the region's biodiversity; strengthen legal and institutional frameworks and compliance mechanisms; and improve and harmonize environmental protection standards.

Guatemala is part of the Regional Security System contained in the Framework Treaty on Democratic Security in Central America, signed in 1995, which establishes a model of cooperative security, integral and indivisible, based on the supremacy and strengthening of civil power, with Reasonable balance of forces and focusing on the safety of people. It must in turn identify elements such as poverty, underdevelopment, depredation of the environment and cultural property, as well as violence, corruption, impunity, narco activity, arms trafficking and terrorism. In addition, Guatemala is a member of the Conference of the Central American Armed Forces (CFAC), whose purpose is to promote a permanent and systematic effort of cooperation, Coordination and mutual support among the armed forces.

Guatemala has a long-standing claim to a large portion of Belize; the territorial dispute caused problems with the United Kingdom and later with Belize following its 1981 independence from the U.K. In December 1989, Guatemala sponsored Belize for permanent observer status in the Organization of American States (OAS). In September 1991, Guatemala recognized Belize's independence and established diplomatic ties, while acknowledging that the boundaries remained in dispute. In anticipation of an effort to bring the border dispute to an end in early 1996, the Guatemalan Congress ratified two long-pending international agreements governing frontier issues and maritime rights.

In 2001, Guatemala and Belize agreed to a facilitation process led by the OAS to determine the land and maritime borders separating the two countries. National elections in Guatemala put a temporary halt to progress, but discussions resumed in November 2005. After being named Foreign Minister in 2008, Haroldo Rodas made clear his intention to reinvigorate discussions with Belize, and the two countries signed an agreement to submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for resolution. The agreement is pending ratification by simultaneous plebiscites in both countries.

The UK continues to support Guatemala's plans to advance development by implementing the agreements under the Peace Accords, particularly those relating to human rights, indigenous peoples and the internal security situation. In addition, the UK supports the OAS-sponsored negotiation process between Belize and Guatemala to resolve their territorial dispute.

The FCO/Department for International Development/Ministry of Defence have jointly funded a number of projects aimed at reducing the potential for conflict along the Belize/Guatemala border. The UK has disbursed approximately £2 million for projects since 2004/05 as well as providing financial and other support for the work of the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone between Guatemala and Belize. The UK Government will continue to work with the OAS to ensure that what we do complements the OAS process aimed at facilitating a peaceful and definitive border settlement between Belize and Guatemala.

A foreign ministry official on 10 August 2017 rejected an overseas media claim that Taiwan gave US$600 million to Guatemala. The claim was made by a media outlet in neighboring Belize and reprinted in the Taiwan edition of Apple Daily. Both Guatemala and Belize are diplomatic allies of Taiwan in Central America. The report said the supposed financial aid to Guatemala included a gift of US$250 million. By contrast, the report said Belize had only received US$60 million from Taiwan, one tenth of the amount allegedly given to Guatemala. Lee Hsien-chang of the foreign ministry dismissed the claim, however. He said the ministry does not comment on the individual costs of Taiwan’s overseas assistance projects. But he said the US$600 million figure quoted was an inconceivably large amount and should not be taken seriously. Taiwan's foreign ministry this year has a budget in the region of US$800 million, making the Belize media report’s claim unlikely.

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Page last modified: 10-08-2017 19:02:26 ZULU